AAAS Forum: Can MOOCs work for all students?

June 4, 2013 at 1:02 am 1 comment

Way to go, Wendy!  My Georgia Tech colleague did really well at a recent AAAS forum on MOOCs.  The tone between the three speakers is striking.  Anant Agarwal says “Hype is a good thing!”  Kevin Wehrbach says that a MOOC is “an extraordinary teaching and learning experience.”  Then Wendy Newstetter lets loose with concerns supported with citations and hard research questions.

In any learning environment, students should gain “transferable knowledge” that can be applied in many contexts, said Newstetter, citing a 2012 National Academies’ report on Education for Life and Work. Specifically, she said, researcher James Pellegrino has identified an array of cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that all students need in order to succeed. How can the array of new online learning models help students achieve those goals?

Newstetter proposed a series of questions that should be answered by research. Educators need to know, for example, under what conditions technology-mediated experiences can result in enhanced learning competencies, she said. Do MOOCs effectively encourage students to develop perseverance, self-regulation and other such skills? Is knowledge gained in a MOOC “transferable,” so that what students learn can help them solve problems in other contexts? How can MOOCs be enhanced to promote interpersonal skills, and what intrapersonal attributes are needed for optimal learning in MOOCs?

Some observers have suggested that MOOCs tend to work best for more affluent students, Newstetter noted. She mentioned the 2013 William D. Carey lecture, presented at the AAAS Forum by Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who focused on strategies for helping underrepresented minorities succeed in science fields. “What he described was high-contact, intensive mentoring,” she pointed out.

via AAAS – Massive Open Online Courses Help Make STEM Education More Accessible, But Do They Work for All Students?.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. George Munchus  |  June 4, 2013 at 2:31 am

    It is refreshing to see some continuing discussion about the role that race and class will play in these credit based degree esarning MOOC’s . I did not hear what Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III had to say but their was an article in the Wall Street Journal today (Monday) about the Masters Degree on-line degree in Computer Sciences offered at Georgia Tech University. I wonder what percent will be African American and or American born citizens of color that are actually admitted and graduate? Great discussion on these MOOC’s going forward.

    Reply

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